Narcissists are generally attractive in the initial stages of a friendship, but those who interact with them for any extended period eventually find themselves turned off by their overarching self-absorption and arrogance. On top of that, it is difficult for these disagreeable individuals to build and sustain lasting and meaningful friendships, which are built upon trust and support, companionship, validation, disclosure and communication.
The Narcissist Revealed
Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist, lists the most common characteristics of a narcissist, including egocentrism, vanity, aggression, arrogance, a general disregard for the needs of others, unfounded feelings of persecution or belittlement, hypersensitivity and the tendency to be exploitative.
Attraction at First Sight
In two separate 2010 studies conducted by psychologists Simine Vazire and Mitja Back, it was found that individuals who are narcissistic tended to be more physically attractive, intelligent and charismatic. These traits made them highly appealing to their peers. However, the researchers found that narcissists actually work very hard at being the center of admiration and awe. They thrive on being a social butterfly, having fleeting interactions with their admirers, which also increase their feelings of self-worth. Eventually, this initial charm fades to reveal their true colors. Those around them are soon put off by being constantly belittled and ignored.
Low on Commitment
The hunger for admiration and attention is a great driving force in a narcissist. Therefore, when they cease to get this from one friend they will quickly seek out new interactions to meet that need. Back concluded that these individuals are not necessarily interested in long-term commitments or closeness, calling the behavior similar to an addict needing a quick fix. The compromise and commitment needed to sustain a friendship is insignificant to them.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist is an endless power struggle. Instead of the harmony that should endure in a friendship, those in a relationship with the narcissist find that their friend must be in control at all times. There may be frequent arguments to prove his point and ensure that his ideas and opinions come out on top. If you want to discuss sensitive personal issues, your narcissist friend may actually tune them out or make efforts to steer the conversation in another direction. When the focus is not on the narcissist, he is likely to get upset or dismissive.
In a friendship with a narcissist there is minimal possibility of growth. Most extreme narcissists are quite aware of how others perceive them; yet do not really seem to care about their ever worsening reputations. (See Reference 2) All they need is be admired. They are less likely to attempt to fix a broken relationship. One of the suggestions made by Scott Barry Kaufman who has made a career out of studying narcissists, is to avoid relationships with them altogether (See Reference 2). However, if they do express a willingness to alter some of their negative behavior, then a true friend will allow them the space to change and grow.
- Huffington Post: 23 Signs You're Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert
- Psychology Today: How to Spot a Narcissist
- Psychology Today: Are You a Narcissist? 6 Sure Signs of Narcissism
- Sex Roles: The Relationship Between Narcissism and Friendship Qualities in Adolescents: Gender as a Moderator
- Journal of Research in Personality: Sounds like a Narcissist: Behavioral Manifestations of Narcissism in Everyday Life
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